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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 6 (September 1, 1934)



Note.—Francis Ledwidge mentioned in the following verses was an Irish peasant on Lord Dubsaney's estate. Like John Keats, he became an apothecary's assistant, but grew weary of the town and tramped home again. He is the poet of the Blackbird, as Keats is the poet of the Nightingale. He died on active service.

Spring, with its treachery of warmth that steals
Into each crevice of the sentient soul
Worn with the waves of Time. One hears, one feels
Responsive yet, as some tranced bat or mole,
To influences ancient as the sun
Whose long beneficence is ne'er outrun.
Again the blackbird draws a tremulous bow
Athwart the heart of things, from garden places.
We stay to think that it was even so In cities vanished now, where vanished faces
Were suddenly informed with happiness
From listening to that leisurely caress.
E'en so Saint Francis listened, and was gay
To hear his little brothers black and brown.
Poor hunted Villon heard at close of day
A blackbird whistle in an old French town,
And knew brief respite from his guilty fear,
That poet who sang the snows of yester-year.
And then that other Francis, whose demesne
Was but a peasant's, Ledwidge, whose sweet song
Was stilled by war, heard you, and stood between
The inarticulate who hear and long, And you, blithe thing, interpreting your speech,
Joining in happy concord each to each.

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